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5 things we learned about influencers, hyper-casual and esports at the Beyond Games Mini-Summit

Leading industry experts deal out their knowledge and advice
5 things we learned about influencers, hyper-casual and esports at the Beyond Games Mini-Summit
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This week we hosted the first every Beyond Games Mini-Summit and Mixer with Game Insight.

A whole host of key industry figures were in the room to espouse their knowledge and network with their peers.

Speakers included Maverick Media MD Will Jeffery, Miniclip chief commercial officer Saad Choudri, Space Ape’s Jodi Sahlin and Simon Hade, Dimoso CEO Jacki Vause, YouTube's Darya Rubashna, ESL UK MD James Dean, EGL MD Glen Elliott, Fanbytes CEO Timothy Armoo, Yogscast CRO Rich Keith and Game Insight CEO Anatoloy Ropotov (as well this very senior editor).

Key takeaways

Topics ranged from working on marketing campaigns, dealing with influencers, getting press, esports, social platforms and the hyper-casual games space.

In total more than 100 leading lights from London's games industry and abroad were in the room to learn and make new contacts. You can check out our photos of the event on Facebook right here (feel free to tag each other of course!)

During the event, Game Insight also gave attendees a sneak peek of its latest game Tanks of Boom, featuring four-player multiplayer action.

It may have been just a mini-summit, but there were some big takeaways.

Click on the link below to find out what we learned at the event.

#1: 5 things to get right when working with influencers

Kicking off proceedings at the Beyond Games With Game Insight Mini-Summit was Maverick Media MD Will Jeffery offering up some key tips for working with influencers.

The company has worked on a number of high profile campaigns, including with Ubisoft on Rainbow Six: Siege, Bandai Namco on Tekken and Paradox on Stellaris.

Managing a campaign the right way

Jeffery said a campaign with influencers should be used as a way to find a new audience - though as he mentioned later in his talk, it can still work for existing userbases as well.

He advised that an influencer campaign should come in to drive specific metrics, whether that is to drive something measurable like downloads or to increase brand awareness.

Jeffery said when conducting a campaign, there are five things developers and publishers should try to get right:

  • The content needs to involve the actual game in some way. Jeffery referenced PR campaigns of inviting influencers to Spain - “But where is the game involved in that?”. It may seem obvious, but the game needs to be explicitly involved in the campaign.
  • The content needs to be aligned with what the influencer wants to do.
  • Developers and publishers need to identify what relevant audience they are going after.
  • A campaign should be multifaceted - not just an influencer doing one stream.
  • Finally, the content has got to be about building the game’s brand - not just exist as something on its own.

#2: If you want to reach an audience on YouTube, you need to act like a creator

Developers and publishers should have a full content strategy as part of their marketing campaign.

That’s according to YouTube’s Darya Rubashna, who said companies can be guilty of making numerous videos around the release, DLC launch or other key dates - and then forget about the campaign for the rest of the year.

Long-term strategy

The best case studies, she said, are where developers and publishers create content on a regular basis.

One example of that was Miniclip’s, which has an official YouTube channel with more than 1.3 million subscribers.

Rubashna also noted how Miniclip invites community managers to take part in weekly livestreams, as well as having influencers host the channel.

Ultimately, Rubashna said if you want to reach an audience on YouTube, you need to act like a creator.

#3: Fortnite will change the whole landscape for esports

Fortnite is set to change the entire esports landscape, according to European Gaming League MD Glen Elliott.

Speaking at the Beyond Games Mini-Summit with Game Insight, Elliott labelled Epic’s hit battle royale title the “first proper mass market game”.

Its huge success has been a particular surprise for a game that wasn’t created as an esport but, as Elliott notes, the battle royale mode's inclusion was to boost sales of the core Fortnite title.

A broad audience

Elliott said EGL is seeing people that have never played in esports tournaments before, or don’t know how to play in them, get involved.

So rather than have that niche, hardcore crowd, Fortnite is attracting a casual audience on top of that.

Back in May Epic announced it was investing up to $100 million for Fortnite esports tournament prize pools around the world.

During that month, according to Superdata the title raked in revenues of $318 million across all platforms.

#4: YouTubers aren’t in the ads business, they are creators

The influencer industry relies on a few key revenue streams and for YouTubers that’s ads. So driving hits to videos is crucial.

Channels that are successful and rack up tens of thousands to millions of subscribers are then likely to attract the attention of developers and other brands to advertise their wares.

While a lucrative source of income for content creators, a careful balance needs to be struck to ensure content is relevant to an audience and the creator is not seen to be selling out. And then there's the question whether such a clear advertisement will even work.

Content creators, not influencers

When asked during a panel if companies should stop treating creators as ‘ad men’, Yogscast chief revenue officer Rich Keith said ‘absolutely’.

“I’d personally say stop calling them influencers… you should call them creators,” said Keith.

“Influence is the outcome, creator is what you do. I think that is an issue that everyone talks about it like it’s just a marketing term. What they’re doing is their day job, it’s making great content.

“And what people are doing is tapping into their connection to their audience, and if you do it the right way it’s a powerful tool and if you do it the wrong way it’s a waste of everyone’s time.”

Space Ape head of influencer marketing Jodi Sahlin also told developers to “stop using YouTubers as an ad network, it’s never going to work”.

Not commodities

In the next panel featuring top mobile games developers Miniclip, Game Insight and Space Ape, the latter’s COO Simon Hade echoed these sentiments.

“I think there's a thread even from the very beginning of the night through to the last panel that is YouTubers don't want to be seen as commodities,” said Hade.

“If you start commoditising it, and thinking about the undervalued marketing play, it's never going to work

“I think the vast majority of games that I see on YouTube and people trying to work with YouTubers or influencers, there's just not a fit there and they're trying to force it.

“And that's when people end up with a bad experience. So there's a thread of authenticity. To make it work the game needs to be authentically resonate with the audience, resonate with the YouTubers.”

#5: “Anyone who dismissed hyper-casual games does so at their peril”

One of the hottest trends in the mobile games space right now is that of hyper-casual games - ‘simple’ titles that offer quick snackable gameplay, are easy and quick to get into, yet tough to master.

One of the sector’s leading publishers, Voodoo, recently raised $200 million from Goldman Sachs, showing just how lucrative the space can be. While successful, the company came in for criticism recently over allegations it copied a game concept from an indie dev before release.

Speaking on a panel, Game Insight CEO Anatoly Ropotov, Miniclip chief commercial officer Saad Choudri and Space Ape COO Simon Hade discussed the hyper-casual genre and why the think Voodoo has been so successful, and ultimately what it means for the rest of the industry.

Voodoo magic

“They have managed to purvey a way of actually polishing them and being enjoyable,” said Ropotov of Voodoo’s approach to hyper-casual games.

“And this is the biggest respect, because they have the workflow and process to build those games. How long this will be sustainable in the age of app stores evolving every year, with ad platforms and monetisation changing every year, we’ll see."

Choudri added: "I think they’ve done very well to get a platform and an audience. But we can see what a team like Gram Games, who tried to do a very similar thing, did. They had a team, who in that space tried to keep going - it’s very difficult to work on that model - and moved to Merge Dragons, and that’s where they’re really going.

“So the fact that Voodoo is going to eventually move there kind of shows it’s a cycle. But they are very good at moving audiences from one game to another.”

Sick of the BS

Hade meanwhile said “none should should downplay the craft and design skill that goes into making those games”. While perhaps easy to dismiss the effort, he said, they are very hard to make.

“At the end of the day is it’s one approach to game design,” said Hade. “What it’s highlighting I think, moreso than the model of the company, is people are sick of a lot of the BS that goes on in games.

“Whenever I play a new game and get invited to join a clan, I just roll my eyes now. There is a huge demand for these very disposable, lightweight experiences.

“Anyone who dismisses those games does so at their peril.”